The Blue Economy Conference has brought world leaders together especially East African Heads of State. However, one John Pombe Magufuli, the President of Tanzania has been missing in action.
President Magufuli’s absence from the first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference has raised questions with many speculating on why the President chose to skip this historic and significant event.
Magufuli is now the only East African President who failed to turn up for the talks that would benefit the region seeing as Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Somalia’s Mohammed Farmaajo, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, and Seychelles’ Danny Faure were all in attendance.
Many have seen the President’s decision to skip the conference as a result of the rather lukewarm diplomatic relationships between Kenya and Tanzania. However, this should not come as a surprise as the Tanzanian leader also did not attend President Uhuru’s first and second inauguration in 2012 and 2017 respectively.
Kenya and Tanzania have been at loggerheads ever since Nairobi protested, through diplomatic channels, at Tanzania’s alleged hosting of a separate vote tallying centre linked to the Raila Odinga led NASA in November 2017.
President Magufuli also caused a diplomatic stir when his government auctioned more than 1000 cows belonging to Kenyan Maasai pastoralists who were grazing them at the Tanzanian border. His government further burned 6,400 chicks imported from Kenya maintaining they were infected by bird flu.
Nairobi described Magufuli’s action as hostile while the Tanzanian president vowed to go on auctioning and confiscating livestock that crossed the border without permission.
“Tanzania cannot be a feeding farm for animals from other countries and that is why we have stated that we are going to take action according to the as law,” Magufuli said adding: “We want to tell our neighbours to take measures based on their laws once our animals graze in their countries.”
In December, 2015, Magufuli, banned Brookside Dairy from operating in Arusha, Tanzania arguing that it was not fair for Brookside Dairy Limited to collect milk from Tanzania, process it in Kenya and then sell the milk back to Tanzania.
The Blue Economy Conference which ended today officially commenced on Monday with several heads of states gracing the event. Over 183 countries sent delegates bringing the number of participants to over 17,600. The conference was jointly organised by Kenya, Canada and Japan with the aim of promoting sustainable use of the seas, lakes and oceans as well as their resources for sustainable economic development.
Do you think Magufuli skipped the Blue Economy out of spite to Uhuru Kenyatta?